Today, many women across the wealth industry are grappling with the new normal, brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The plethora of demands they must face each day while working remotely is genuinely remarkable. Firms must embrace the move towards accommodating mothers who are unduly impacted to succeed in our current environment.
Although the circumstances of the situation vary, women across the U.S. and in the wealth industry are in a similar position, experiencing the pressure to make it all work. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, children are now at home due to school closures, offices have moved to residences, and governments are enforcing social distancing mandates. While women have typically encountered stereotypes around having a larger emotional bias toward family commitments, known as the ‘motherhood penalty,’ at present, many mothers have no other choice.
Our research indicates the following three themes prevail for mothers in today’s market:
• Income is unstable: Because of the pandemic and the disruptions to daily life it has brought, women are trying to ‘do it all’ without the assurance of a steady income
• Value of women’s wages is high: The majority of U.S. households with children depend on income from women
• Aid is necessary: Women need help from their partners and flexibility from their workplaces
For many households today, a woman’s income is essential. Trying to juggle her work with additional responsibilities at home can put that income in jeopardy. Therefore, partners must step up at this time to help with tasks at home. If there was ever a time to re-examine the assumption that women can “do it all,” it is now.
Taking on more work in the household is becoming progressively more challenging for women. With more than 70 percent of U.S. homes with children depending on income generated by their mothers today, people should no longer presume that a woman’s role in the home will provide a greater benefit to her families than her income from paid work
Even in families with two main sources of income, nowadays, it is frequently mothers who are caring for the children, preparing meals, cleaning, and doing paid work. Working women are three times more likely than their male counterparts to run the household, nine times more likely to manage children’s schedules, and eight times more likely to require time off to care for an ill child. Women cannot do this alone. They need help from their partners and flexibility from their workplaces.
According to LeanIn.org, unfortunately, only 40 percent of employees have indicated that their companies have taken action to increase flexibility since the implantation of social distancing measures. Even worse, less than 20 percent say their employer has narrowed their scope of work to accommodate their needs. Frankly, this is not enough, especially for mothers. Leaders and managers should reassess deadlines set before the pandemic for mothers in the workplace and re-allocate low-priority items to other team members when necessary. Similarly, if mothers are home-schooling their children, their managers should be made aware and adjust their work schedules accordingly.
Women’s income and contributions matter to their families, to their communities, and the economy. Therefore, firms should position mothers’ well-being throughout this new normal as a strategic priority. Now is the time for managers to become leaders in the workforce. Companies must provide women with flexibility and understanding as they simultaneously juggle responsibilities at work and home. Companies across industries can do this in one of many ways, including holding brief daily meetings to allow employees to share what they are working on, identify problems, realign priorities, and ask for help. As a result, employers will lessen the burden for women and their families as they continue to endure the difficulties of these unprecedented times.
Cassie Apgar, Consultant